"The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked." Proverbs 24:16
Ok, so two days ago, I passed a test. Last night, I was tested again...
Pulling into the parking lot of the Christian bookstore, I spied a disheveled homeless man crouched down, balled up next to a very large flower pot, his head buried in his chest with a hat covering his unkempt hair that was sticking out in all directions. Immediately, I sensed my internal temperature rising (it does that a lot lately). As Love walked up to the entrance, the begger raised his head and asked him if he had any change and he handed him what was in his pocket.
As I sat there watching Love give him some change, questions began to spiral out of control. Why was he so hopeless? What happened to him that caused him to give up and beg for a living? Do the people in the store know there's a homeless man sitting on their sidewalk, begging for money? Does he believe that Christians will be more generous than if he were to stand on the corner of the access road with a sign that reads, 'Veteran with no benefits, please help me.'
I did pray for him and ask God to give him hope, but honestly he may have had more hope than I did. He was stepping out in faith, believing he'd receive something. I just sat there staring. When Love got back in the car, I asked him if he mentioned to the employees that there was a homeless guy begging outside their door. He replied, 'No.' The conversation dropped and we went to eat.
Light always dispels darkness, but do we choose to come into the light or stay in the dark and hide?
Even as the sun shone in our bedroom and dispelled shadows behind shades this morning, His voice challenged and exposed the condition of my soul before my eyes ever opened.
What if that 'disheveled' man was an angel? What if this, too, was a test for me to see the condition of my love for God by my love for the 'least of these'. Like beams of light burning down through flesh to bone marrow, I was grief-stricken that I'd cared so little for that man and yet claimed to love God.
I was exposed.
" For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable." Hebrews 4:12-13How do I reconcile the failure to live up to the commandments Jesus set as the standard in Mark 12:30-31:
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Perhaps the next few verses in Hebrews shows how light exposing my heart is God's way of reminding me that it's all about what He did and that the life of His Spirit in me is enough to change me...
"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." Hebrews 4:14-16
He is a gracious God.
It is always about Him.
When I turn my gaze, even for a second, away from Him and focus on where I'm not or where I've failed Him, that's the moment I shortchange the greatness of His grace available to me.
Yes, I failed that test. And I am confident He set it up just that way to show me that I need Him to change this area among the many others that are not reflecting who He is in me.
Oh, that I would declare as Paul each time I am prone to turn inward:
"I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Phillipians 3:12-14
Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great Shepherd of the sheep,and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood—may he equip you with all you needfor doing his will.May he produce in you,through the power of Jesus Christ,every good thing that is pleasing to him.All glory to him forever and ever!Amen.